A leading HIV Charity in the UK has blasted the Government after NHS England announced plans to make PrEP more widely available were shelved.
Leading HIV Charity Terrence Higgins Trust have said that plans to hold off on making PrEP more widely available across the NHS was failing groups of people who are at risk of being infected with HIV.
In a statement released by NHS England, it affirmed that rolling out the drug to groups most at risk of new infection, was not their responsibility- despite initial results of drug trials showing a dramatic decrease in new infections.
NHS England said it was “committed to working with local authorities, Public Health England, the Department of Health and other stakeholders,” in order to bring the drug to a wider audience.
The pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) drug if taken as directed is successful at reducing new HIV infections by 86%.
Terrence Higgins Trust’s CEO said,
“Over 2,500 men who have sex with men are diagnosed with HIV each year in the UK. This figure has not changed in a decade. It is quite clear that although we have had some huge advances in HIV treatment, HIV prevention is something that we are still struggling with.
“By denying full availability of PrEP we are failing those who are at risk of HIV. Today’s decision by NHS England to depart with due process, and, instead, offer a tokenistic nod to what has the potential to revolutionise HIV prevention in the UK, is shameful.
£2 Million – “Tokenistic”
NHS England announced that a £2 million fund would be created to ‘run a number of early implementer test sites’ and would include a further 500 500 men at high risk of HIV infection.
According to NHS England these will be undertaken in conjunction with Public Health England and will seek to answer the remaining questions around how PrEP could be commissioned in the most cost effective and integrated way to reduce HIV and sexually transmitted infections in those at highest risk.
THT have called the £2 million figure ‘arbitrary’.
Ian Green continued,
“£2 million over two years for 500 gay men ‘most at risk’ is an arbitrary figure which seems ill thought out and will still deny the protection that PrEP offers to the people who most need it. We know that PrEP works and already have substantial data from a real world setting from the PROUD trial. PrEP has already been approved in the US, Kenya, Israel, Canada, France.
“And yet, our own government refuses to take responsibility for PrEP. Today’s statement makes it no clearer who is responsible – is it the Department of Health, local authorities, the NHS or Public Health England? We need answers , we need access., and we demand both.”